Things to Consider When Choosing a Marine Radio
When selecting a marine radio there are some particularly important factors to consider.
When venturing offshore more than 5 Nautical miles, it is law that you must have a marine band radio on board. There are two radios to choose from, a 27-megahertz radio or a VHF radio.
VHF stands for very high frequency. This radio is the one I use for one incredibly good reason. It is an important piece of safety equipment if something goes wrong.
I use a Raymarine brand as it is simple to operate and has an extra safety device built into it called digital select calling (DSC) for this function to work you must obtain a marine radio operators license.
Once you have completed the course, you get a unique number called a MMSI. You enter this number into your radio once it is installed. Your radio must be then hooked up to your boats GPS system so that when the DSC button is activated, the radio sends out your exact location alerting other ships and rescue groups in the area that you are in distress with your exact location.
The exact type of emergency can also be sent with a simple to use dial on the radio. Law on the sea is that it is a legal obligation if you can and are close enough to help, you must.
Having a VHF radio has a great advantage over the 27Mhz radio in that all commercial vessels must have a VHF radio and must monitor the distress frequency channel 16. This means if you get into a distress situation, a commercial boat may get to you quicker than the rescue group. VHF radio’s also have channels which operate through a repeater station, which gives a lager reception range.
In Western Australia, Perth metro area, we have two repeater stations, one on the tallest hill in Pinjarra, the other is on Rottnest island. I have been 36 Nautical miles off the cost and had incredibly good reception using a repeater channel.
Never have it will never happen to me attitude, be prepared for the time that things do not go to plan and give yourself the best chance of survival.